In The Footsteps Of Fidel Castro And Ernest Hemingway

Che Guevera on the side of a building in Havana’s Revolutionary Square. He seems to have been a bit of a drama queen. More on him later.


This man, below, was the other great hero of the Cuban revolution, Carmelo. The phrase you see there is a famous quote he made to Fidel Castro as Castro consolidated his power after Batista fled the country.

American visitors sometimes ask the tour guides if this is 1) Jesus Christ or 2) Osama Bin Laden.

Seriously. I could not make shit like this up.


This is the famous Revolutionary Tower, site of many of Fidel Castro’s five and six hour speeches in his younger days. Where I’m standing is actually his favorite place to stand as he spoke. The stature behind me is Jose Marti, the thoughtful, intellectual Cuban nationalist who led the first Cuban war of independence against the Spanish.

I tried to get a picture of me doing an awesome Marxist power fist in the air but as Jeff tried to get the lens cover off the sleepy Cuban honor guard scowled at me and I lost my nerve.

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It was a beautiful but hot day in Havana and we decided to take the elevator to the top of the tower.


Do note the extremely large black birds flying/roosting around the top of the tower.


90 miles across the water is Florida. Shocking, huh?

As I took this picture, I looked down on a ledge beneath this window and burst out laughing.


The large black birds? Vultures.

Our tour guide was behind me as I started laughing and she started giggling, dropped her voice to a whisper, and said

I should be careful because there are probably microphones here <casting eyes towards the ceiling> but Cubans make lots of jokes about these birds choosing the Revolutionary Tower as their favorite place.

<she dropped her voice lower>

Some people say they have good company here. <insert wild giggle>.


After a morning of Revolutionary sights, we headed back to the hotel to discover….DEAR HOLY GOD WHAT IS THAT COMING OUT OF THE BED?


After careful analysis, we decide it was supposed to be a swan but at the wrong angle you might suspect someone was reading the scary Japanese tentacle porn, you know?

{Important travel note: we subsequently discovered that the swan thing is a national passion in Cuba, subject to regional interpretation and everything. We had one every night the rest of the trip, sometimes with flowers. It never got less creepy for me.)


After warily unrolling the swan and freshening up (freshening up = discarding sweat soaked clothes, taking ice cold shower, and putting on clean clothes, thereby running through clean clothes at x3 the normal rate), we headed out to Ernest Hemingway’s favorite bar to try a daiquiri.


Forget every neon red snow cone thing you’ve ever had that masqueraded as a daiquiri.

A real daiquiri is freshly made using delicious white Cuban rum, fresh Cuban sugar, lime juice, all crushed together with ice in a blender.

It was….in a word…..spledifirious.


No wonder Hemingway was an alcoholic! Believe me, if I could hang around all day and drink daiquiris by the bucketful, I would do it.

I would also have 57 cats if I could but that is a story for another time.

Jeff, below. Picture after 1.5 daiquiris. Picture taking skill somewhat compromised but loads of fun.


Fabulous house band!


Jeff is taken to the humidor to select a cigar. He choses a Cohiba.


After 2 hours, we realize that we simply must leave The Florida or risk falling into Hemingway’s trap and staying forever drinking daiquiris.

Jeff gets a Cohiba for the road.


We sober up by taking the long way home.

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There are…and you know I can’t make this up….packs of feral wiener dogs combing Havana, a legacy of the German population before World War 1. This dog is one of the strays. People kindly feed the strays even though they themselves have little to spare.

WYLD! WEINER! DOGS! No…I’m serious. There really are wild wiener dogs everywhere. What is not to love in this country?


Jeff supports a highly illegal personal enterprise by buying a tamale off a bike. It turned out to be just masa…no filling because meat is so hard to get.

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Afterwards, night is falling. We “freshen up” yet again — two days into the trip and I’m already worried about clean clothes — and head out for night in Havana.


Vas bien, halos,


PS You’ll only get that sign off joke if you are a Cuban Communist. Or Jeff.

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